Play in Jamestown Speaks to Disease of Addiction

Opioid addiction, in the form of pills or heroin, is a disease experts say has hit epidemic proportion; the play “Four Legs to Stand On,” is written by a South County native and tackles the issue in all of its dramatic complexity.

The drama seeks to lift the stigma from the disease of addiction and start the necessary conversation to help fight it. The thread of the story is a family in crisis as it comes to grips with the realization that a child has the disease of addiction, and their reactions –- fear, blame, uncertainty, anger, and frustration among them.

The piece was written by South Kingstown native and New York University trained drama therapist Ana Bess Moyer Bell. It was a response to the overdose deaths Bell had seen in her hometown in recent years, and she combined community narratives, addiction research, and drama therapy theories to create the piece. She also founded an umbrella organization, Creating Outreach About Addiction Support Together, a Providence-based nonprofit. Its site, www.coaast.org, also lists other programs the agency is working on.

Full disclosure: I am in this production playing the father, and have a keen interest in the topic. My own son, an Army veteran of the war in Afghanistan, is a recovering addict, clean for about two and a half years. As an actor, this work is the most important I’ve ever done.

The play is 35 minutes long, followed by a 20-minute talkback, during which the audience is encouraged to offer their opinions and insights into not just the production, but the important issues it raises. We have found these talkbacks to be as compelling as the show itself.

The play is being presented on Friday, June 2, at the Jamestown Arts Center; showtime is 7 p.m. The Center is located at 18 Valley Street Jamestown. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $18 for center members. The performance is sponsored by CODAC Behavioral Health Care.

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